Patel wins county spelling bee for third consecutive year

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, March 1, 2023

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Straughn Middle School seventh-grader Dhilan Patel was named the Covington County Spelling Bee champion for the third consecutive year Friday, Feb. 3, at the Opp Depot.

Straughn Middle School seventh-grader Dhilan Patel was named the 2023 Covington County Spelling Bee champion. (PHOTO PROVIDED)

He correctly spelled the word “rennet” to capture the title and will represent Covington County at the upcoming state spelling bee.

According to the Oxford dictionary, the word “rennet” is a noun. Its definition reads, “curdled milk from the stomach of an un-weaned calf, containing rennin and used in curdling milk for cheese.”

Patel, who first began spelling at the age of four, said this win means a lot to him.

“It’s given me another chance to participate in and hopefully win the Alabama Spelling Bee and eventually the National Spelling Bee. I’ve studied tirelessly night and day for countless hours, and I will continue this preparation for the spelling bees ahead.”

He won his first county title as a fifth grader at Straughn Elementary School and successfully defended his reign in the sixth grade at Straughn Middle School last year.

“I really enjoy how much I have learned about different languages throughout my preparation for spelling bees. I feel good about moving on to the state competition but am still slightly nervous just like always. I’m looking forward to seeing how other spellers across the state have prepared and how well they have prepared,” Patel said.

The Alabama Spelling Bee is scheduled for Saturday, March 18 at University Hall on the campus of UAB in Birmingham. He was previously the state champion in 2021 and advanced to the state competition, where he finished in 59th place overall.

“I will be practicing for my next completion in the same way. There will be more advanced words, but I am confident in myself that I will do well.”

A second win at the Alabama Spelling Bee would send him to the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee, which is scheduled to take place in National Harbor, Maryland, following Memorial Day.

Patel showed appreciation toward his family and friends for supporting his journey.

“It really means a lot to me. I have a strong support system, which really has contributed to my success in spelling bees and in other aspects of my life as well,” he said.

He is the son of Neil and Binita Patel. His older brother, Taj, is a senior at Straughn High School.